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SFB 2021 Digital Season


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2 hours ago, pherank said:

Some Program 2 thoughts...

Let's Begin at the End I talked about back in the spring when it was first streamed. My only real issue was Rhoden's tendency to arrange the dancers symmetrically, and have everyone dancing the same steps without any variations. Morris, on the other hand, offers a master class in variation and subtle alteration in his group dances that I find fascinating. It bears repeated viewing.  

I liked the use of props in Thatcher's ColorForms. Sasha chewing bubblegum on the steps was amusing. I appreciate Thatcher's impulse to highlight some of the Corps dancers in his various works. We get to see more of Maggie Weirich and Jasmine Jimison than is perhaps usual. And that's a very good thing. During one of the group dances I remember De Sola and Birkkjaer just beaming. In fact, everyone seemed to be particularly happy at that point in the proceedings and it made me smile to see it. It's the little things.

There's a real sense of camaraderie in Thatcher's ballets (which I suppose is natural given that he creates on his friends) that I think is refreshing. And hopefully, that spirit is communicated to most audience members.

The ColorForms film itself is fun to watch, though conceptually speaking it's not as tight as it could have been. Certain visuals have more obvious references than others. Garish colors blasting my retinas isn't really my thing. It's the playful touches - like paper airplanes, apples, balloon animals, and Sean Bennet with a topknot(!) that kept me interested. The dancers perform surprisingly well on redwood chips in the park, if that means anything. I do wonder what ColorForms is going to look like on an actual stage - Thatcher is going to have rework a great many things to fit that ballet in the opera house.

I was happy that Jahna Frantziskonis was featured in Sandpaper Ballet. I hadn't seen much of her in the last couple of years - I know that she's struggled with injury. I always look for her. JF's PDD with Cavan Conley was wonderful. Her articulation of the steps is so lovely and nuanced. She's blessed with great proportions, so that always helps. It was nice to get to see Sasha Mukhamedov and Vlad Kazlov taking part again too (he is now with Bayerisches Staatsballett).

Is that a "Tall Girl" (Rubies) send up when Mukhamedov is partnered by three men? I see references to Serenade, perhaps, and probably a half dozen other ballets in the steps.

Program 2 gives us more Cavan Conley, which is a wise move, as he's quite entertaining - he has one of the more expressive faces in the company. I enjoyed his dance with Frantziskonis.

Wona Park looked a little stiff to me in the Morris PDD. She's not really as soft and supple in her movements as the choreography seems to warrant, and I'd like to see her be more playful in her demeanor. She does the steps but I didn't feel particularly engrossed in what she was doing or how she was doing it. But, she's young, and that was my first impression of things. Daniel Deivison-Oliviera looked much more physically attuned to the spirit of things. He looks like he belongs.

I was very pleased to see the Sunday matinee performance of Sandpaper Ballet from last season's Program 2 as I also am excited whenever I see Jahna is cast.  I was able to see the other casts of Sandpaper Ballet.  Jahna did dance in other casts - but this performance that is part of Program 2 is the only performance where she danced the PDD (Trumpeter's Lullaby) with Cavan.  The other dancers who danced this PDD were Misa Kuranaga/Esteban Hernandez and Julia Rowe/Joseph Walsh.   I actually went to 4 of the 6 1/3 performances - the second performance during the run ended about halfway into the first piece because of a power outage.

And Yes - that was a tall girl Rubies homage with Sasha Mukhamedov (Jennifer Stahl danced this part in another cast).  Last year there was an event called 'Exploring Sandpaper Ballet' which I was able to attend.  In one of the sessions, the moderator showed some clips from a previous performance of Sandpaper Ballet and asked what we saw.  When I saw Sofiane Sylve with her leg being held up by one of the men, I immediately yelled out 'Tall Girl in Rubies'.  And then the next slide showed a pic of Sofiane in Rubies next to her pic in Sandpaper Ballet!!  And it was discussed that there are a lot of playful references to other iconic dance moments in the piece.

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On 2/10/2021 at 1:23 PM, pherank said:

This is the last day of Program 1 availability - A Midsummer Night's Dream AND the 2021 Virtual Benefit Gala video. Tomorrow we have access to Program 2 [Rhoden's Let's Begin at the End, a world premier of Thatcher's ColorForms, and Morris' Sandpaper Ballet] until March 3rd.

Purchase a subscription or single program access here:

https://www.sfballet.org/productions/digital-program-02/

Streams are viewed on the SF Ballet @ Home website (creating an account here is free):

https://www.sfballet.tv/

 

The Gala is no longer available -but Midsummer still is available.  I did purchase the entire season, so maybe that's why I still have access - for now???

If I understand correctly, the single purchase stream is available for 72 hours once you begin watching.

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1 hour ago, sf_herminator said:

I was very pleased to see the Sunday matinee performance of Sandpaper Ballet from last season's Program 2 as I also am excited whenever I see Jahna is cast...

Great info - thanks!

1 hour ago, sf_herminator said:

The Gala is no longer available -but Midsummer still is available.  I did purchase the entire season, so maybe that's why I still have access - for now???

If I understand correctly, the single purchase stream is available for 72 hours once you begin watching.

If AMND is still available it may have something to do with when you first started watching - it is no longer available for me. I was wondering how they would deal with late subscribers who would expect to have access to each of the programs. Or does SFB reduce the subscription fee as the number of programs left shrinks?

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I should mention that there are 3 short documentary episodes titled Myles Thatcher | From Scratch and they provide more background information and backstage footage, rehearsal footage, etc. There were at least two casts present for the creation of ColorForms. In one scene we see Thatcher addressing a cast which includes Mukhamedov, Robison, Powell, Wei Wang, Park, Weeks (and those are just the dancers I could recognize with their masks on), but they obviously weren't the group that ended up being filmed. Anyway, the backstage short videos are available to everyone with an account on sfballet.tv.

EDIT:

It's worth mentioning that ColorForms is directed by former dancer Ezra Hurwitz who also happens to have directed films for NYCB's New Works digital season. So he's obviously getting a lot of work these days. I remember that the ColorForms film credits are quite long - it's a major undertaking even to do a short film with limited sets.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CG8KYjFgeZ1/

Edited by pherank
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On 2/12/2021 at 6:47 PM, pherank said:

If AMND is still available it may have something to do with when you first started watching - it is no longer available for me. I was wondering how they would deal with late subscribers who would expect to have access to each of the programs. Or does SFB reduce the subscription fee as the number of programs left shrinks?

I was off the grid with almost no internet at the end of January through early Feb and was on the fence between the full subscription and buying half the season a la carte.  When I heard the gala highlights were still available when I was back in WIFI territory, I bought the full season on Feb 10th.  I prioritized watching the gala excerpts and Program 1 interviews, since it is PNB's production of AMND.  AMND was available, but I'm not sure for how long.  Over the weekend I had PNB's Romeo et Juliette to watch before it expired Monday midnight, so on Feb 16th I went to see if AMND was still available and only the trailer was there.  The MTA and POV interviews from Program 1 are still there now, so in hindsight I could have saved those for later.  Maybe I was given 72 hours like I single purchase of AMND?  

I noticed the full season is available for purchase still for $289.  I suspect SFB will eventually reduce the price as there are now 6 programs remaining.  PNB has done that as their season progressed.  

It's interesting how the different companies provide different amounts of time for viewing, organize the content, and what they provide for extras.  I'm glad I bought the entire SFB season, I have really enjoyed the extra interviews, and I've only watched program 1 so far.  And I'm excited to see Jahna in Sandpaper, I was at that Sunday matinee last year.  We still miss her in Seattle.

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32 minutes ago, seattle_dancer said:

I was off the grid with almost no internet at the end of January through early Feb and was on the fence between the full subscription and buying half the season a la carte.  When I heard the gala highlights were still available when I was back in WIFI territory, I bought the full season on Feb 10th.  I prioritized watching the gala excerpts and Program 1 interviews, since it is PNB's production of AMND.  AMND was available, but I'm not sure for how long.  Over the weekend I had PNB's Romeo et Juliette to watch before it expired Monday midnight, so on Feb 16th I went to see if AMND was still available and only the trailer was there.  The MTA and POV interviews from Program 1 are still there now, so in hindsight I could have saved those for later.  Maybe I was given 72 hours like I single purchase of AMND? 

So you were never able to see SFB's AMND? That is a real shame - the Chung/Birkkjaer PDD in Act 2 alone is worth the price of admission. If you subscribed to the full season after the Program 1 end date you should contact SFB's ticketing services and find out if you can get a private URL for viewing AMND - it seems to me they owe it to you. It's not exactly an impossible technical feet, and this eventuality should have been planned for. There definitely needs to be clarification form SFB on how subscribers can see the entire season if they come in late.

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I bought digital subscriptions to several companies -- SFB, PNB, Sarasota, Boston. But with each of them, I was drawn to a complete performance of a favorite piece (especially Ratmansky's Symphony #9 at SFB and Pictures at an Exhibition at PNB). Everything else is bonus material for me during this never-ending nightmare while we wait for the return of live theater -- hopefully this fall. Compared to the cost of travel and tickets to see these companies, the digital subscriptions are bargains and it's a way to support the companies. I confess that I didn't really appreciate PNB's alternative version of R&J, but that's just me -- I'm mainly looking for comfort food at this point. I'm also not a fan of all the talking dancers in many of these offerings, but that's also just me; I'm sure some people find that really interesting and worthwhile bonus material. Most importantly for all these projects: dancers and other company personnel are getting work with paid support from their digital audiences.

I haven't been drawn to the single performance approach that Royal Ballet and Kennedy Center is using, even though they are very reasonable and the offerings are interesting. Of course, we've all benefitted enormously from the free things that companies like NYCB have offered and I assume everybody is taking advantage of them.

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10 minutes ago, California said:

I'm mainly looking for comfort food at this point. I'm also not a fan of all the talking dancers in many of these offerings, but that's also just me; I'm sure some people find that really interesting and worthwhile bonus material. Most importantly for all these projects: dancers and other company personnel are getting work with paid support from their digital audiences.

For me the sequence of (SFB) Myles Thatcher videos were quite engrossing since we get a 'backstage' view of the filming of ColorForms in SFMOMA, and also the interactions of the dancers and choreographer in rehearsal (while observing Covid-19 protocols). It makes for an interesting document of an unusual happening. The Meet the Artist interviews with SFB dancers certainly require some natural interest in the dancers - that's easy for me since I've been following many of them for a number of years. The Pointes of View interview with Tomasson, Kelly Tweeddale, Danielle Rowe and Myles Thatcher was fairly in-depth and of interest as well.

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An email update today from SFB on Program 5:

Programming Change for Program 05

 

 

 

These last 11 months have brought about much uncertainty and change with the world. As an organization, we have done our best to adjust and pivot where we can, announcing an all-digital season, and 3 world premieres created specifically for the screen.

However, the safety of our audiences, dancers, and musicians has been at the forefront of our work, and COVID-19 related obstacles created unforeseen delays with the film capture of Choreographer Cathy Marston's Mrs. Robinson at the War Memorial Opera House this month. Therefore, we have made the joint decision with the American Guild of Musical Artists to continue to prioritize the health and safety of our artists and support staff by pausing filming. Mrs. Robinson will be rescheduled for live performance as part of the 2022 Season. An archival capture of Marston’s revered Snowblind, created for the 2018 Unbound Festival, will replace Mrs. Robinson for Program 05
.

Snowblind takes you inside the complicated relationships between Ethan Frome, his wife Zeena, and Zeena's cousin Mattie. But fear not! In 2022 you'll see our heroine in Mrs. Robinson exploring her relationship with Benjamin Braddock. Throw in the added complication of Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine, and you've got something worth waiting for.

 
"[Snowblind] gripped the audience so tightly that when the score abruptly vanished, the emotional tension held us in breathless suspension...."  Dancing Times

 

 

We thank you for your continued support of SF Ballet.
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1 hour ago, PeggyTulle said:

An email update today from SFB on Program 5:

Programming Change for Program 05...
 
 
 

Yeah I saw this e-mail today. Very disappointing for me since I was really looking forward to it. Snowblind is a good and intense piece, but we've seen it. So no surprises and no new magic.

It's hard to know exactly where things went wrong. I'd like to see a documentary on how SFB attempted to film 4 ballets during quarantine but ran into a wall. At least we could then commiserate with their frustrations.  😉

Edited by pherank
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Program 5 Change:  I noticed it on the website earlier today.  For some reason I do not receive all the emails from SFB.  It is disappointing Mrs. Robinson could not be filmed - but then again (assuming we are able to attend  performances again next year) we will see Mrs. Robinson as it was intended to be seen on the Opera House stage.

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On 2/19/2021 at 7:46 PM, PeggyTulle said:

The program 5 change is also interesting and surprising given Cathy Marston's recent IG post praising the recording and dancers' performances. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLbgSvUANcZ/?igshid=xybionh1paoj

Since SFB seemed to be filming on the opera house stage, there could have been an issue with artists, stage hands, or even the film crew contracting the virus, and so more quarantine time. I would think they had enough time to capture some of the ballet [Madison Keesler post from 3 days ago: "I’m so thrilled to be back in our opera house today and tomorrow to film parts of @cathyrmarston’s “Mrs. Robinson”!]. But something is keeping them from finishing.

"COVID-19 related obstacles created unforeseen delays with the film capture of Choreographer Cathy Marston's Mrs. Robinson at the War Memorial Opera House this month"

EDIT: If they simply needed more time, why not swap Program 5 with Program 7, for example?

Edited by pherank
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IG post by Cathy Marston:

These are some informal screen shots from my ‘nightlife’ this week - filming excerpts of #MrsRobinson for @sfballet this week over zoom, with brilliant director, @rossmacgibbon directing from London. Sadly due to #covidrestrictions we will not be able to capture the whole ballet, but I’m thrilled that the piece will be performed live in the company’s 2022 season. Meanwhile look out for the ‘short film’ I made with Director @laurenfinerman on location at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, that the company are releasing this week for a limited period, and in due course excepts of the ballet on stage that we were able to capture will be shared. Thanks to the amazing dancers, DoP, designer, and team @_svp_ @josephwalshsf @luke_ingham @madisonkeesler @steve_condiotti @patrickinmonth #jimfrench Chris Denis, @katitawaldo Anita Paciotti, Katie Orr, @lulutrublu , #terrydavies Martin West...

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLgbOdSg8ql/

Edited by pherank
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Really enjoyed Colorforms as part of Program 2, so much so I've re-watched it several times. The visual richness, quick and playful editing, and camaraderie that I think many of us are missing these days... Myles Thatcher hit it out of the park with this one. I'm curious how it'll translate to the stage in the future. 

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1 hour ago, PeggyTulle said:

Really enjoyed Colorforms as part of Program 2, so much so I've re-watched it several times. The visual richness, quick and playful editing, and camaraderie that I think many of us are missing these days... Myles Thatcher hit it out of the park with this one. I'm curious how it'll translate to the stage in the future. 

My thoughts exactly!  Plus, it was wonderful to see something so filled with color (no black costumes, which, I suppose, are meant to be sophisticated and/or edgy, but sometimes just look boring), and enough light to see what was going on, even when dimly lit.  

Agree that Thatcher fulfilled expectations, although I suspect the director gets some of the credit too.  It would be interesting to know how a choreographer and film director collaborate.  I'd love to have the them interviewed together and hear how it worked.

It occurs to me that ballets made specifically to be filmed might be a new 'thing', even after in-person venues open up.  I'd happily pay to purchase a digital download of this one.  

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31 minutes ago, PeggyR said:

Agree that Thatcher fulfilled expectations, although I suspect the director gets some of the credit too.  It would be interesting to know how a choreographer and film director collaborate.  I'd love to have the them interviewed together and hear how it worked.

 

Ezra Hurwitz, a former Miami City Ballet dancer and dance filmmaker, directed the video. He's collaborated with SFB and many others in the past, and I believe he's also partners w/Gonzalo Garcia (former SFB and current NYCB principal). 

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On 2/25/2021 at 3:00 PM, PeggyTulle said:

Really enjoyed Colorforms as part of Program 2, so much so I've re-watched it several times. The visual richness, quick and playful editing, and camaraderie that I think many of us are missing these days... Myles Thatcher hit it out of the park with this one. I'm curious how it'll translate to the stage in the future. 

Colorforms was absolutely worth the price of admission, but I don't think it would be half so delightful on the stage—and I mean this as a compliment to both Thatcher and Hurwitz. It's a dance made for film—a good one!—not a filmed dance performance. The jump cuts between the dancers moving through the museum in their sneakers and street clothes to those same dancers moving to the same music in costumes, point shoes, and slippers in a color-drenched space that isn't quite that same museum but vibrates in resonance with some of the colors and shapes of the art on display tells a little story about what happens to us when we engage with art. Ditto when they (literally) step through the frame into the wider world and take the dance and some "colorforms" (brightly hued paper airplanes) with them. I kept thinking about Balanchine's comment on the two halves of Liebeslieder Waltzes: in the first half it's people dancing, in the second half, it's their souls. 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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10 hours ago, Olga said:

I give Ezra a very large portion of the credit for Colorforms. 

It's true that ColorForms the film veered away form Thatcher's original conception/theme for the stage ballet - the dancer's movements inextricably influencing one another like the linked pieces of an Alexander Calder mobile.  And so we get a broader artistic experience, which in this case works well. If Thatcher goes the Yuri Possokhov route using digital projections for his stage production, he actually could reproduce some of the aspects of this SFMOMA environment.

Here's a couple behind the camera/computer experience videos (Thatcher is the commentator) - the first clip definitely gives me the sense that Thatcher and Hurwitz are working together. It's probably not just a case of Hurwitz deciding what gets to be shown or edited out without Thatcher's approval. In Hurwitz's NYCB films he may have been given a lot of leeway, but I haven't seen any evidence yet that this is a case of the choreographer handing over control to the director to "do something with my choreography". If people haven't watched them, I recommend the Myles Thatcher | From Scratch videos that accompany Program 2.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLuNtcRD6gS/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLIycbXAspv/


Side note: something that Myles Thatcher has posted makes it sound like "Team B" is the group of dancers working on the opera stage version of the ballet (still in process), whereas Team A was used for the site-specific filming:

"(And a special shout out [to] the dancers in Team B who worked tirelessly to help shape this piece into what it is today. I can’t wait to show you off to the world too!)"

https://www.instagram.com/p/CLKseD3Av8o/

 

Edited by pherank
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1 hour ago, pherank said:

It's true that ColorForms the film veered away form Thatcher's original conception/theme for the stage ballet - the dancer's movements inextricably influencing one another like the linked pieces of an Alexander Calder mobile.  And so we get a broader artistic experience, which in this case works well. If Thatcher goes the Yuri Possokhov route using with digital projections for his stage production, he actually could reproduce some of the aspects of this SFMOMA environment.

I think it would be fine if there were two versions of Colorforms, one developed for film (and in this case, site specific) and another developed for the stage. Some of the former's effects could probably be ported into the latter via technology, but it's OK for the stage version to simply honor what can be done on a proscenium stage—much as the film version needn't try to emulate the experience of being in a theater.

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1 hour ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I think it would be fine if there were two versions of Colorforms, one developed for film (and in this case, site specific) and another developed for the stage. Some of the former's effects could probably be ported into the latter via technology, but it's OK for the stage version to simply honor what can be done on a proscenium stage—much as the film version needn't try to emulate the experience of being in a theater.

I totally agree, and artistically speaking, it would be an interesting project. Learning what works in one medium and not another, and what works in both, has to be very useful to an artist.

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